I am a great fan of social media.
It keeps me up to date with what’s happening in the world, it helps me find and keep in touch with my friends, both old and new, and it makes me laugh. A lot.
I laugh at the jokes and funny stories I get to read every day. They are funny haha.
I laugh at the stupid pictures and video clips of cats, dogs and other animals doing stupid things. They are funny haha.
And I laugh at some of the outraged rants about items featured in, what should have been, no more than yesterday’s fish and chip paper. They are funny peculiar. You know the ones I mean, the rants that are based on some scurrilous media report or another. The posts which have a link to the article in question The posts where the original poster prefaces the story with a sentence saying how awful it is. The posts where innumerable people all comment on how terrible it is, how our politicians are trying to control us, how whatever it is won’t work and how it’s all the fault of migrants, refugees, people from other cultures or religions, foreign nationals etc, etc.
Before I am accused of being heartless and unfeeling and told that I shouldn’t laugh at other’s misfortune and at the lies and cruelty of the people in power, I’m not. Let me explain. I am not finding the situation funny, no, what I am finding funny is the lack of research that people are doing before they start ranting. Time and time again the original story that is promoting the outrage is extremely old and the whole situation has changed or not happened or been rationally explained subsequent to the article being printed or posted. And no-one seems to have checked. People have just started ranting as if it’s current when it’s not. People appear to be ranting for the sake of it.
Clicking on the headline and looking at the date of the original article isn’t difficult. Just today I have seen a story about a political sex scandal from several years ago being talked about as if it has only just been discovered, a story about some punitive and discriminatory legislation that never went any further after it was first touted in 2013, and has now been abandoned, and a story about the way we are all being cheated by benefit scrounging migrants that is nearly five years out of date. Why are we talking about it again? Has something new happened? What makes it so important now? No, it’s all finished with and is part of history now so why not leave it in the past and move on. There is so much that is happening today that we should be discussing and questioning and being incensed about and we’re not. We are being sidetracked by ancient news and people are getting away with all kinds of things because we’re not looking. The old articles have their place as examples of how people have not learnt from their previous mistakes and are repeating themselves, or about patterns of behaviour, but should always be prefaced with a sentence saying that they are old stories when they are re-posted, not talked about as if they are new and unknown. I am a great lover of history and looking at how things that happened in the past affect what is happening today. It is fascinating and valuable but, and it’s a big but, I always know that the things I am reading about happened in the past because I have been told that they did. I am, therefore, not tempted to rant about them as if they are happening now.
What I am asking is for people to do a little more research before they post. I know I have been guilty of falling into this trap myself but, slowly, I am learning so I don’t do it again. The internet is your friend. If you are about to post a story on social media you have the greatest research tool at your fingertips. The internet. Check before you post. Make sure you have your facts straight. Don’t get distracted by yesterday’s news and miss the important causes for today. Get incensed about the right things. It doesn’t take long. I may not get to laugh as often as I do now but I don’t mind, at least I will be more certain that people are getting angry about the right things and not being distracted but things that don’t matter any more.